Gay couple ‘saved’ by England cricketer Ben Stokes say he should be knighted

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: England player Ben Stokes raises a smile during England nets ahead of the 1st ODI against West Indies at Old Trafford on September 18, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A gay couple “saved” by England cricketer Ben Stokes have said he should receive a knighthood after his Ashes success.

Kai Barry, 28, and William O’Connor, 22, were protected by Stokes after they suffered homophobic abuse outside a nightclub in Bristol in September 2017.

Stokes stood trial for affray last year over the incident, in which he punched two men, but was cleared.

The couple he “risked” his career for are now calling for him to be rewarded after his triumphant performance in the Ashes match against Australia.

Barry told The Sun: “There’s no question he should get a knighthood. He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.

“Ben risked his career for us. He’s my hero. He’s showed immense strength of character.”

Speaking after the incident, O’Connell said: “We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.

“Kai feared he could be attacked. If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.”

Barry added: “I’m not a fighter and we didn’t want a fight. We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.”

Stokes was accused of punching former serviceman Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground, before knocking out firefighter Ryan Ali, 28, during the brawl, which also involved his teammate Alex Hales.

The sportsman told Bristol Crown Court that he was defending a gay couple from a potential homophobic attack.

“These men were speaking to the gay guys in what I would call a harsh and abusive way,” Stokes said at the time.

“It was homophobic in nature. It wasn’t at all like banter.”

The jury found 27-year-old cricketer Ben Stokes not guilty in 2018.